Political movies can approach the notion of politics and government from numerous perspectives, and with many wildly divergent purposes. Some of the earliest and best-remembered films were essentially propaganda tools being used by a political party or ideological group, hoping that the new media of cinema could be useful in helping to persuade or mollify the masses. Battleship Potemkin is a great example of a successful propaganda film.
Political films can also serve the opposite purpose, encouraging people to distrust or even fear their government, or attacking an individual politician or political movement specifically. Some of the best political movies, the paranoia thrillers of the 1970s, for example, reflected America's distrust in its own leaders following the Watergate and other corruption scandals. Political movie titles like George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck told a true story about journalist Edward R. Murrow facing off against Joseph McCarthy, but as a way of discussing political issues that remained relevant even upon its release in 2005. Good political movies are able to illuminate complicated situations for their viewers.
Many Americans' understanding of complex political situations, both in their homeland and in other countries, as well, comes from watching popular films. For example, the satirical take on the politics of war in Wag the Dog, the insights into Greek politics provided by Costa-Gavras Z or the look at Bolivian elections in the documentary Our Brand is Crisis.
This list includes notable and significant political movies from throughout cinema history from all different styles and genres. Be sure to vote up your favorites to help them reach the top of the list, vote down the movies you think other fans should skip, and check back for recent political movies as they are added to the list after being released.
- Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn